Para One – Passion
The new album from Jean-Baptiste Laubier, aka Para One, incorporates a swathe of influences from the Parisian's varied career. As the producer behind the banlieu-meets-dancefloor hip-hop act TTC, he was instrumental in redefining the French hip-hop sound, evolving it beyond Gallic Wu-mimicry into a lithe, sexy electronic hybrid. From the opening bars of Wake Me Up, with its loping electro beat and deep, resonant glitches and squelches, Para One manages to achieve a fine balance between experimental, processed and distorted sounds and melodic, dancefloor-friendly vibes.
Where it works, it's hypnotic and involving: the low-slung breakbeat house of Vibrations, the slamming electro-funk of When The Night, the AFX-flavoured Sigmund, and the Com Truise-esque vibes of You are all sure-fire winners. The vocoder-heavy R'n'B of tracks like You and Every Little Thing are less successful, purely because they sound over-familiar in contrast to the experimentation of the more instrumental cuts. [Bram Gieben]